Desperate for success, new Cameroon coach Jean-Paul Akono has convinced star striker and four-time African Player of the Year Samuel Eto’o to end his boycott and recalled two veteran players who were members of the national squad that won the gold medal at the Sydney Olympics in 2000.
Defender Pierre Wome and midfield player Modeste Mbami, who last appeared for their country three years ago, are on the squad named for the decisive African Cup second-leg fixture against Cape Verde.
Forward Mohamadou Idrissou, 32, who last represented Cameroon in the 2010 World Cup, has also been brought back for the October 14 encounter.
Akono, who replaced Frenchman Denis Lavagne after Cameroon’s 2-0 defeat in Cape Verde last month, said the veteran players’ recall was based on experience and current form.
“Also, there’s a need to get the true spirit of cohesion within the team and put them back on their feet,” he added.
Cameroon failed to qualify for the last African Nations Cup, jointly hosted by Equatorial Guinea and Gabon and is close to missing the next tournament in South Africa.
South African captain Steven Piennar has retired from international soccer. The 30-year-old withdrew from last month’s matches against Brazil and Mozambique with an injury, but was on the field a few days later in the starting line-up for Everton.
Piennar is the latest South African player to be caught up in the club versus country entanglement.
Benni McCarthy retired from international soccer after the 2002 World Cup to concentrate on his club career in Europe before returning to the national fold. Mark Fisher retired several times while Shaun Bartlett quit international soccer to secure a new contract with Charlton.
Piennar made his international debut eight years ago and appeared in two World Cups.
With South Africa set to host the next Nations Cup, the country’s soccer association president, Kirsten Nematandani, is calling for urgent action to deal with hooligans.
Last Sunday, Mamelodi Sundowns’ supporters tore down barriers and knocked over the club dugout to protest a 2-0 loss to Moroka Swallows at Dobsonville stadium.
“Most people go to watch soccer as a source of entertainment with their families and they need to be protected from these thugs,” he said. “We can’t allow these people to take the law into their own hands because, by doing so, they are destroying the 2010 legacy. These unpleasant images are viewed across the globe. They are denting the image of soccer in the country, hence we say no to hooliganism.”
Meanwhile, Nigeria will play a friendly international against Venezuela in Miami on November 14 as part of its Africa Cup of Nations preparation.
BY RON FANFAIR